In December 2014, >talkairlines had the opportunity to experience the new Boeing 777-300ER, flying in Premium Business Class on CI006 from Taipei to Los Angeles. Click HERE for the trip report.
China Airlines has finally released details on its Boeing 777-300ER Economy Class, which will include normal Economy Class seats and the new Family Couch. Family Couch is a version of Air New Zealand’s (ANZ) revolutionary Skycouch. ANZ licensed the seating type to China Airlines earlier this year, making China Airlines the first airline other than ANZ to install the seats. This new type of seat will be installed to the ten rows after the first row of Economy Class. However, they will only be limited to the far right section. A 3-people ticket for Family Couch can be up to 60% cheaper than the fare of 3 Business Class seats. Passengers can choose to purchase Family Couch tickets only on long haul routes.
Family Couch is a row of three Economy Class seats that together adapt to create a flat flexible space to stretch out and relax in. Passengers can raise the footrests & armrests 90 degrees during inflight and enjoy a comfortable sleep. The experience can be further enhanced with the mattresses, pillows, and blankets provided by the cabin crew along with specially designed seat-belts, to be attached to the passenger’s seat and the front seat-back (reason why Family Couch won’t appear in the first row) (special seat-belts will also be handed out by the cabin crew, indicating that unless one buys Family Couch ticket, he/she can’t enjoy the bed-seat). When all the footrests and armrests are raised up, the total area of the seat set will be 64cm wide and 140cm long.
Both the Family Couch seats and the normal Economy Class seats will be manufactured by Zodiac Aerospace. The seats are slimmer than current CI Economy Class seats and can allow passengers to recline up to 118 degrees (Compared to the current 106 degrees). The seat pitch will be 32 inches. Each seat comes with a 11.1-inch HD (high definition) personal TV. The screen offers a variety of entertainment using the Panasonic eX3 system.
The new China Airlines Boeing 777-300ER will have a total of 358 seats, including 40 lie-flat B/E Aerospace Super Diamond Business Class seats, 62 Premium Economy seats (no information released yet), and 256 Zodiac Aerospace Economy Class seats (including 30 Family Couch seats/ 10 sets) (Most likely 3-4-3). The first routes of the 77W will be regional routes, including that to Hong Kong and Bangkok. Long haul 777-300ER services will start in December with routes to Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Frankfurt.
>talkairlines is delighted see the innovative improvement yet is surprised to see only 10 sets of Family Couch seats installed. Air New Zealand, the first user of the seats, has 20 sets of Skycouch on each of its Boeing 777-300ER. The decision of China Airlines indicates that the carrier still lacks confidence in getting sufficient amount of premium flyers, or in this case, passengers willing to pay more.
As stated by the officials of the Taiwanese national carrier, the company’s revenue relies heavily on Economy Class passengers. The airline tends to attract passengers willing to pay less since its ticket prices are usually lower than its competitors.
Current long haul planes of the airline have an economy to non-economy ratio of approximately 8:1. The 777-300ERs will have a ratio down to 2.5:1. Despite the improvement, as compared to major carriers in the region (for example Cathay Pacific: lowest 1.9:1; ANA: lowest 1.12:1), the number is still rather high.
Nevertheless, >talkairlines still recognises China Airline’s effort to transform its products. The new Business Class is a huge leap forward from the current angle-flat seats; additionally, the Premium Economy Class is a brand new class type to the airline.
>talkairlines hopes that with the new premium product offerings and a lower economy to non-economy ratio, China Airlines can attract more high-yielding customers and gradually transform its customer base.